Jovan Belcher Signs Tender

For the past two seasons, Linebacker Jovan Belcher has locked down a starters role. But despite signing his one-year tender on Thursday, he's likely going to face a battle to retain his starting job.

When Jovan Belcher, the undrafted free agent linebacker from Maine signed with Kansas City in 2009, not many felt he'd make the team. But a year later, Belcher became a starter at inside linebacker.

Over the last two seasons, Belcher has racked up a respectable 171 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and one pass deflection. Although some of those numbers don't pop out at you, Belcher earns his pay in short yardage and goal line situations.

A year ago, the Chiefs brought in veteran linebacker Brandon Siler to compete with Belcher. But the former San Diego Charger, blew out his Achilles tendon in training camp. In January, the Chiefs resigned Siler to a one-year deal. And if he returns to the player we saw in training camp 2011, Belcher may become a solid back-up for Kansas City. That is if he remains with the Chiefs.

When Belcher signed his RFA contract, his agent can shop his services to other NFL teams. If another team offers Belcher a contract more than the $1.927 million offered by the Chiefs, that team would receive Belcher but also must to forfeit a second round draft pick. With a premium on draft picks in the NFL, that's a high price to pay for Belcher. But with the Chiefs woefully thin at the position right now, they might have to match any offer he might receive.

Last month, the Chiefs released linebacker Demorrio Williams, who promptly signed with division rival San Diego. That leaves only Belcher and Siler with the experience needed to play inside linebacker. With Siler's health still somewhat of a mystery, the Chiefs would be taking a major risk not having a proven starter as a backup plan.

In the coming weeks, the Chiefs will continue to scour the free agent market for more depth or they may opt to wait until April's NFL draft to fill the position.

The Chiefs have the 11th overall pick in and one player that would be a perfect addition to their linebacker crew would be Boston College Linebacker, Luke Keuchly. The Big East linebacker isn't the fastest or biggest athlete at that position. But is unanimously considered the best linebacker in the 2012 draft class. Keuchly has remarkable instincts and is always near the ball.

Although the Chiefs defense would be respectable with either Siler or Belcher, a player like Keuchly could wreak havoc when paired with Derick Johnson and bookend linehackers, Tamba Hali and second year LB Justin Houston.

It would appear that the Chiefs are happy with Belchers development. But then again neither he or Siler has been offered a long term contract by the Chiefs, so that indicates that both could be stop gap players for the Chiefs in 2012.

Regardless of what moves are made in the coming weeks or months, inside linebacker will be one to watch when the Chiefs head to training camp in late July.


WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Can Jovan Belcher compete for a starters role in 2012?


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